Why not to gate your B2B content
Gating the content also means missing out on claiming your leadership, and your expensive content doesn’t get seen
What's wrong with those B2B people putting their content behind a spiked gate? If you are a bit like me, you get immediately irritated and frustrated by making an effort to click, fill in a form, leave your details to get a whitepaper, and then be stalked with annoying newsletters or, even worse, a sales rep. ‘70% of buying committee members say they prefer rep-free sales experience’ (Gartner, Contently)
It’s almost 2024, this sh*t changed. Wake up from the 90s and 00s. You'll win back in the end from what you give away in the beginning.
→ ‘Content has become the heartbeat of digital-first, modern marketing practices. We invest significant time, budget, and energy in creating content, the purpose of which is to connect with our various audiences. And what do many B2B brands still do with these valuable assets?’ Amy Heidersbach in Contently
I get it that that’s B2B marketers’ dream, to collect as many email addresses and data as possible to shitty shine in reaching their KPIs.
These people and brands forget that gating the content also means missing out on claiming your leadership, and your expensive content doesn’t get seen.
Why it matters
If you want your content to be seen, you have to make the access as easy and frictionless as possible. The more people can educate themselves with your content, the more you can claim your leadership in the industry. Win-win.
Maybe you’ll collect a little less data – be honest, were you really going to use and monetize all that data?
Below, I’ll explain all about
- Dark funnel,
- Nobody wants to feel like a lead,
- Consumers want to self-educate,
- SEO, it's a thing,
- How this impacts shortening your sales funnel,
- And what I’m not saying.
Including an example.
According to ChatGPT, the dark funnel is ‘the hidden, untraceable stages of the online customer journey where potential customers research and engage with a brand without leaving conventional digital footprints for tracking.’ In short, your prospects' activity is invisible.
That means you can’t track it; you can’t collect first-party data and follow up with email marketing.
Compare this to dark social; you share content directly via WhatsApp with your friends. Untraceable for brands, more convenient for you.
Marketers, please don’t get drunk on data and email addresses. Don’t fall for the pitfall to measure everything that can be measured and collect as much data as possible.
Nine out of ten, you’ll do nothing significant with that microdata except for shining in the boardroom where the one-eyed still is king on content. And if you have those email addresses, you have to set up a campaign to follow up and try to convert these super cold leads.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing everything. The so-called dark funnel, where your prospects' activity is invisible to the brand, rules big time.
And be honest, if you have all that microdata. What the f*ck are you going to do with it? If you have hardly enough budget to produce amazing content, I severely doubt that you have the budget to analyze this micro correctly and follow up with new content, funnels, and A/B testing programs.
Publish your knowledge openly, no gates. And share what you know with your audience. This is the way forward to claim your leadership and become the go-to brand in your industry.
No one wants to feel like a lead
The same goes for B2C, where no one wants to be marketed. As soon as you feel you’re going to be chased by the brand with obligatory emails that usually don’t add value to your life or inbox, you’ll pass and click away.
Make accessing your content as easy and frictionless as possible. Any marketer knows that every additional click causes a drop in conversion. In this case, the conversion is getting your content seen by your audience (prospects).
They want to self-educate
The B2B industry is all about education, information, and sharing knowledge. By claiming your leadership, you’ll be ahead of your competitors.
When you’re doing your online research and searching for information, you want to do this by yourself without the hungry, pushy salesperson chasing you down the digital aisle. If you wanted some not-entirely-unbiased advice, you would have hit the ‘contact’ button and reached out.
Gating your content also means that SEO can't access it. And that's bad for your ranking.
For sure, there will be hacks and workarounds to give Google's spider access. That probably is advanced SEO work and not something you can DIY. So if you don't have the big boys' budget and have to play smarter, make sure the Google spider can access the content as easily as your audience can.
Shorter sales funnel
I know this sounds quite contrary. Yet it’s true. Giving away your content for free does shorten the sales funnel in the end.
Compare this with buying a laptop at MediaMarkt; you do your homework at home, yet you do want to touch and see the laptop before making the purchase. In the store, you just close the deal, and no need for the nitty-gritty technical details.
By educating your prospects on how to solve their problem (first), preferably with your product (second), they’ll come a lot hotter in your sales funnel.
Once you claim your leadership in the industry by showing your care and your passion for what you do, they’ll come back to you for more information.
The chances you’ll get a hot lead via non-gated content are much higher than via boring newsletters. Or via a too-swift call by a sales rep. See above; if your audience wants some advice, they know how to contact you.
Keep your newsletter
Just for clarity, I’m not saying, ‘don’t do email marketing.’ I love email marketing when it's done right with the audience's best interest in mind, not the brand.
I say, don’t gate your valuable content by asking for their email address and shoving them in the database.
Again, if they want to subscribe to your newsletter, they’ll find it on your .com.
If there’s one platform that gives away all their knowledge and insights, it’s Contently. Great website and an amazing newsletter that was actually the inspiration for this page.
Why they are good
And yes, they have a sales funnel. And it’s quite pushy. And I get that as they need to drive business to be able to give us content. Quid pro quo.
I do know who I’ll call when I need a content marketing platform.
Please don’t gate your content. We are in a new content era. Gating your content to get as many leads as possible and push them into your email database is not moving the needle. Even more so, you miss out on reach, and your expensive content doesn’t get seen.
We are not in the 90s or 00s anymore. Make your content as easy and frictionless accessible as possible, claim your leadership, and the leads will follow if you’ve done your content right.
Remember, no one wants to be marketed to, no one wants to feel like a lead, and they do want to self-educate. And once they hit the ‘contact’ button, your sales funnel will be shorter (and cheaper).